What we know about Michael Boatwright, who woke up in Palm Springs with amnesia

July 7th, 2013 | by Kate McGinty | Comments
Michael Boatwright, who refers to himself as Johan Ek, is staying at Desert Regional Medical Center. (Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Michael Boatwright, who refers to himself as Johan Ek, is staying at Desert Regional Medical Center. (Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

The No. 1 most popular story — by far — on Sunday is about Michael Boatwright, a man who woke up in the emergency room at Desert Regional Medical Center with apparent amnesia.

Boatwright, 61, responded only to the name Johan Ek and spoke in Swedish.

UPDATE: Michael Boatwright amnesia story goes international; sister located by The Desert Sun (July 15)

“The guy Michael — it wasn’t me. I’m still Johan,” he said through a translator in a recent interview with The Desert Sun.

A psychiatrist and psychologist diagnosed him with Transient Global Amnesia in a “fugue state,” likely triggered by some kind of emotional or physical trauma.

UPDATE: Michael Boatwright ‘overwhelmed’ by media attention (July 16)

Desert Regional moved him to the hospital’s skilled nursing facility, where he remains until the medical team decides how to safely discharge him. Social worker Lisa Hunt-Vasquez has been assigned to track down next-of-kin information and help to piece Boatwright’s story together.

You can read Victoria Pelham’s complete story here.



– He served from 1971 to 1973 in the U.S. Navy as an aviation mechanic, the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed.

– The VA had one emergency contact listed for Boatwright in Japan, but the social worker was unable to reach anyone there.

– Boatwright was likely a 3D graphic designer and had taught English in both Japan for 10 years and China for four years.

– He often used the screen name korstemplar.

– TPR English School in Zhuhai knew Boatwright was divorced but had no information on his ex-wife.

– Dade County Missing Persons Bureau says his parents were dead — his mother in 2012 and father in 1997. He had other aunts and uncles who had also died and another ex-wife he had divorced in 1983. He might have had two sisters in Sweden.

– His YouTube account shows he was subscribed to several tennis channels, and he dons a sweater bearing the name of a college tennis tournament in gold embossing.

– He had several Chinese bank accounts but could only access one of them (with $7).

– Boatwright flew to Palm Springs from Hong Kong on Feb. 24, the day his Chinese visa expired.

– Boatwright was found unconscious in a Motel 6 room on Palm Canyon Drive at noon on Feb. 28. He had with him a duffel bag of casual athletic clothes, a backpack, five tennis rackets, two cell phones, some cash, a set of old photos and IDs identifying him as Boatwright.


Hear from Boatwright in this video by photojournalist Jay Calderon:



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